Werder Bremen to pay for policing as German teams reject pooling costs | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 03.12.2019
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Werder Bremen to pay for policing as German teams reject pooling costs

Werder Bremen will continue to pay for extra policing costs of "high risk" games after the DFL refused Bremen's request to split the bill. Bremen have threatened legal action; 34 of 36 teams declined to share the costs.

The city state of Bremen is currently the only part of Germany to rule that football clubs — in this case, Werder Bremen — should contribute to the extra police costs for matches deemed to pose a "high risk" or fan violence or unrest. 

This puts Werder in a unique position in the Bundesliga, but the club had hoped that other members of the Germany's top two divisions would help foot the bill via the DFL league association. That hope was dashed on Tuesday, when 34 of 36 clubs from the top two flights of German football rejected Bremen's request to split the cost of additional policing for "high risk" games at the Weserstadion.

The decision fell at a meeting of the DFL's general assembly in Neu-Isenburg, near Frankfurt. Bremen's suggestion was for the costs to be covered three ways — with Werder paying part, the visiting team paying a share, and the DFL covering the remainder.

Only Werder voted in favor, RB Leipzig abstained, and the other teams that were present (two missed the meeting) all opposed the proposal. 

Werder consider court case, Rummenigge objects

Bremen responded by threatening the DFL with legal action: "In the interests of Werder Bremen, we will probably have no choice but to take legal action," Bremen CEO Klaus Filbry said on Tuesday. "We would have liked to have avoided this situation. But we must do all we can to ensure that the damages which the state of Bremen are heaping on us have as little impact as possible."

Werder's president, Hubertus Hess-Grunewald, added: "We cannot and will not accept liability for 100 percent of the costs."

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was highly critical of this plan. 

"I have no understanding for Werder's desire now to sue the DFL," Rummenigge told German news agency dpa. "In the 19-year history of the DFL, this step would represent an absolute first. The idea of solidarity was always a strength of all the DFL's members, one that Bremen should not put at risk even in this case."

Solidarity with what? 

Bremen, however, argue that the DFL is not showing any solidarity with its predicament: "Today, with regard to Werder Bremen, we saw precious little of the principle of solidarity that many clubs have been repeatedly preaching in recent months," Hess Grunewald said.

Previously, Rummenigge had said that the DFL could not set up a fund to help cover Bremen's costs, arguing that this would be an open invitation for other regional governments and police forces in Germany to palm off the costs of match security onto clubs.

Bremen also sought to appeal the local government's decision in court but failed, with Leipzig's federal court of arbitration ruling in March that it did not breach German law to pass the costs on to the club. Only one appeal option remains open, at Germany's highest court. The DFL wants to take the case to the constitutional court on behalf of all teams across Germany, though it's by no means clear that the court will agree to hear the issue.

The outstanding bills for three matches, with more "high risk" games to come this season, will now return to Werder Bremen. However, they are only liable to pay half until such time as the legal disputes around the law are definitively settled.

Other states, including Mainz's home state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the city state of Hamburg, have been considering similar measures to those taken in Bremen. Regional interior ministers will discuss this issue at a meeting on Wednesday. 

mds/msh (AFP, dpa)

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